Pokemon: Mewtwo Returns is a direct follow-up to the first Pokemon movie, which originated as a feature-length TV special in Japan on December 30, 2000. This special was a direct-to-video release in the United States, and was released on December 4, 2001.
In this special, Mewtwo's heart has been softened after seeing Ash's selflessness in the first Pokemon film. Mewtwo has traveled to the western region of Johto, searching for somewhere that he and the cloned Pokemon can live that is unreachable by humans in order to live in peace. He finds a spot at the top of Mt. Quena, which is surrounded by steep cliffs that are hard to scale. At the top of the mountain is a forest and a freshwater lake that is a home to many bug Pokemon.
At the end of the first film, Mewtwo had erased the memories of the events of the first film from those involved in it. Unfortunately, Giovanni, the head of Team Rocket, was not on New Island at the time, so his memory was not erased. Giovanni has been spending time trying to locate Mewtwo, so he can recapture the Pokemon and use him for the initial purpose for which he had been created.
Meanwhile, Ash, Brock, and Misty are passing through the area near Mt. Quena. Due to weather complications and missing the bus (which only comes through once a month), the trio end up staying at a cabin located at the foot of the mountain. The occupant of the cabin is a Pokemon naturalist named Luna Carson.
The group is soon joined by Cullen Callix (another Pokemon naturalist) and Domino (a girl who works for the Pokemon Institute). Jessie, James, and Meowth burst into the cabin and take Pikachu. As Team Rocket tries to escape in their Meowth balloon, a storm suddenly swoops in and sends the balloon flying in all directions. Ash and the others must try to rescue Pikachu. As the special unfolds, it turns out someone isn't who they seem to be, and Mewtwo and the clone Pokemon become involved in the story.
In order to enjoy and understand Mewtwo Returns, a viewer needs to have already seen the first Pokemon film. The running time for the film is just right for the story being told; it's not so short that the story feels rushed, but it's not so long that the intended child audience becomes bored with it.
The character of Mewtwo is rather philosophical in this special; while younger children who watch this may not completely understand Mewtwo's contemplations, it adds a layer that makes this special a more enjoyable viewing experience for adults. As for the animation in this special, it is a little higher quality than what was seen in the regular television episodes, but it's not as good as the quality of animation used in the theatrical films.
When it comes to the DVD, the menu on the disc allows you to watch the entire film, choose which scene you want to start with, watch the bonus features, or choose language and subtitle options. For subtitles, this release includes English, French, and Spanish.
This DVD release includes two special features. The first is labeled as "The Uncut Story of Mewtwo's Origin." This feature includes the first 10 minutes of the original Pokemon film that had been cut from the English dub of the film.
In this special, it is revealed that the scientist that helped to create Mewtwo had his own motive for dabbling in cloning; the scientist's daughter had died, and he managed to create his daughter's consciousness and wanted to be able to create a clone of his daughter. We also see things through Mewtwo's eyes before he escapes from the lab in the first Pokemon film.
After seeing some of the themes included in this section, I can see why 4Kids would have been hesitant to include it in the original Pokemon film when it was released here. It's also interesting to note that the design of the scientist who lost his daughter bears a strong resemblance to Dr. Tenma in Astro Boy (a scientist who lost his son in a tragic accident and created a robot in the hopes of bringing back his son). This was a rather eye-opening piece, and some of the concepts included really tie in with what is presented in Mewtwo Returns.
The second feature is labeled as "Johto League Champions." This is simply the opening title sequence for one of the Johto region seasons for Pokemon. Personally, I felt that this was a waste of a bonus feature.
Pokemon: Mewtwo Returns should really be in the DVD library of any Pokemon fan. Unfortunately, this DVD is now "out of print," so it can only be acquired by buying a used copy. If you're interested in this release, check out various sellers of used DVDs, both brick and mortar and online stores.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that I checked out through the King County Library System.